The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll released in January 2017 focused on an “old institution,” marriage. Over a thousand randomly selected Americans were surveyed via telephone during a week in October 2016. Results were compiled and released by CBS News on January 5, 2017. The poll covered seven topics, including the purpose of marriage today, opinions about monogamy, what can most negatively affect marriage, and advice for someone seeking to get married.
The first question was an inquiry on the main purpose of marriage today. The majority (53%, which includes both single and married people who were surveyed) responded that marriage’s purpose is to mark a commitment between two people in love. Others answering the question disagreed; 23% see its main purpose as raising children and 20% claim it does not have a purpose today. That being said, the second topic addressed reactions upon hearing about a couple married for 50 years. An overwhelming 91% of those surveyed chose the option of, “Wow, what an inspiring accomplishment” over the more negative, “Yikes, they must be so tired of each other.”
When asked “What is the greatest threat to marriage?” participants were given several options from which to choose. Overall, jealousy (26%) was marked as the most harmful to a martial relationship. It is interesting to note that the majority of those who are single or never married chose jealousy, while those who are divorced or separated chose boredom and, a close second, poverty. While the Internet may have been considered the least threatening by those surveyed, research has shown the negative effects of the use of social media and technology on close family relationships, a trend which may continue to rise with technology advances.
When asked how hard children of divorced parents work at their own marriage, the majority (52%) replied that being a child of divorced parents has no impact on how hard one works at a marriage. The fifth question juxtaposed two romantic scenarios: “a beautiful love story that ends in marriage” versus a “torrid affair that breaks up a marriage.” When asked which situation would be more “entertaining,” 73% of those surveyed chose the former scenario ending in marriage. While this “plotline” may seem cliché or “boring” to some, it is clear that this majority of Americans did not think so.
The sixth question regarded monogamy. Although it may be considered old-fashioned, 64% said that monogamy is “fundamental” to a relationship, while only 26% said it is not realistic. The majority view was similar regardless of the respondent’s gender, marital status, or political identification. The survey concluded with advice given to someone about to be married. The two most popular answers were to “make sure you’re compatible” and to “communicate/listen,” with a close third in “be committed/don’t give up.”
At times, marriage may appear irrelevant in our day and age, as we are living in a society that has “become increasingly liberated both morally and sexually,” according to CBSNS. But it is clear that love, marriage, and family life are still considered, even to a small degree, something sacred – or at least worth celebrating.
About the Author
Caty Long is a first year Master of Theological Studies student at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and currently an office assistant for the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth at the USCCB.